Short stories are my go-to for quick escapes from stress when I don’t have time to fall into a novel for a whole day . My True Love Gave to Me is full of December love stories you can snuggle in with for a few minutes before bed without needing to stay up until 2am to find out what happens. This means I get a story but still have energy to keep the kids from painting the walls with frosting when we decorate cookies the next day! My favorite is Rainbow Rowell’s New Years story involving a nut allergy and dancing on a coffee table, but so many great YA authors are here. Editor and TN fave Stephanie Perkins delivers a dreamy boy from a Christmas tree lot. Ally Carter brings us two girls who swap airline tickets, Gayle Forman shares the miracle of a Hanukah romance precipitated by shared love of The Simpsons, and Jenny Han gives the gift of Santa’s daughter who has a crush on an elf. The first December I read this I came away with excellent authors I hadn’t read before to add to my January TBR.
If you find yourself with a little more time—say, everybody goes to the mall for the morning or your in-laws take the kids to see the Nutcracker—A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant is a delightful treat. I often pass over historical romances, but this one was free for Kindle and put me right into the Christmas spirit. The handsome, dutiful oldest son wants to buy his sister a falcon from the daughter of an unconventional baron the day before Christmas. She talks him into giving her a ride to her aunt’s house party so she can find a husband. They have to pretend to be married so nobody will think they’re eloping. Snow falls. Shenanigans ensue! This was a gosh-darn delight and, again, it’s free for Kindle at the moment. How could you not?!
Need to check out in the middle of chaos? When I can’t take any more togetherness, but still need to cook the roast and do the dishes I send kids to play in the basement, plug in my earbuds and let my brain go live in audiobook-land while I do battle with the to-do list. My ultimate title for this holiday tactic is Rosamund Picher’s Winter Solstice, the only Christmas novel I manage to find time for every year, one way or another. It starts off slowly, introducing you to a number of lonely souls around the UK, and builds to the coziest Scottish Christmas Eve you can imagine, full of characters you’ll love so much you’ll consider sending them one of the blasted greeting cards you’re addressing. This book makes me feel like I’m snowed in and curled up in front of the fire with a blanket even though I’m listening to it while frantically wrapping teacher gifts at 11pm the night before the last day of school.